Smartphones have become essential business tools over the past several years, allowing users to carry contacts, business information, passwords, and financial details all on a single portable device. In fact, we carry so much sensitive information on our phones nowadays, virus writers have taken note. Mobile viruses are on the rise, including exploits sent by text message and Bluetooth.
With danger lurking at every hot spot it’s important that users take the time to put security measures in place. After all, smartphones are like small computers, combining e-mail, Web access, and business applications. They need to be protected in the same way you would protect your office or home computer, especially since most users back up their phones to their computers, opening the door to further infection.
Start out by taking a look at your phone’s built-in security features. Some operating systems already include firewalls and antivirus protection. You’ll want to make sure that these safeguards are activated and that your phone is set to connect only to secure Internet connections.
If your phone doesn’t have a lot of built-in security, there’s a plethora of third-party security applications available to you. Companies such as Symantec Corp. and F-Secure Corp., among others, offer antivirus and firewall protection, as well as protection against SMS (short message service) spam and “snoopware” that turns on your phone’s camera.
There’s also mobile software available that lets you securely store passwords and banking information, manage your Web activity, create a virtual private network, and encrypt data. Whether you use your smartphone for business or personal use it may be worth investing in some of these applications. After all, $30 for a basic mobile security bundle is nothing compared to lost banking and business information.
Protecting a Lost Phone
Of course, no application is going to protect you from actually losing your phone, but there are some steps you can take to minimize the loss. The first and easiest precaution is to always lock your phone when it is not being used. However, if you forget to lock your phone and lose it, some models can be locked remotely via text message. Check your manual to see if this function is available to you.
You can also go one step further and have the phone “wiped” remotely, erasing all data on your device. Businesses that supply phones to their staff may want to make sure that remote wiping is available on their devices so the IT staff can manage any possible data loss.
Smartphone software makers have been working to give companies even more control of their devices, and some also allow IT managers to manage passwords and policies. Phones with the Windows Mobile platform offer these functions as well as remote wiping, for instance.
Finally, if it’s time for a new phone, make sure that you have deleted all the data off your old device and removed the SIM card, if it has one. Discarded phones can be a boon to thieves looking for passwords and other sensitive information.